Ashton gets new court date

Only a Supreme Court judge will hear the second trial of a former Vernon teacher charged with allegedly having a sexual relationship with a former student.

Only a Supreme Court judge will hear the second trial of a former Vernon teacher charged with allegedly having a sexual relationship with a former student.

Deborah Louise Ashton, 46, whose first trial in February resulted in a hung jury, has applied to have her second trial on the matter held before a Supreme Court judge alone.

“I have given my consent and will file the re-election so Ms. Ashton’s counsel can sign it,” said Crown counsel Neil Flanagan before Judge Robert Powers in Vernon Supreme Court Monday.

The trial is slated to begin Feb. 6, 2012, and Flanagan expects the matter to last seven days.

“That’s subject to the availability of one or two police officers which has not been determined yet, but I am confident that things will begin then,” said Flanagan.

Flanagan told the media afterward Monday that there had been no change of venue application put forward.

Ashton did not appear in court on Monday, nor did her lawyer, Terry La Liberté, though La Liberté did take part via conference call.

“Jury trials normally take longer,” said La Liberté.

“We both feel seven days is more than adequate and that will include if the defence (Ashton) is called.”

Ashton took the stand in her own defence during her first trial, which lasted two weeks.

She had pleaded not guilty to counts of sexual assault, sexual interference of a person under 14 and invitation to sexual touching under 14 in regards to an alleged relationship with a former student at a Vernon elementary school between September 2002 and January 2004.

A mistrial was declared after the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict following 13 hours of deliberation held over two days.